In addition to adhering to the 'Code of conduct and conflicts of interest' guidelines, reviewers have the following responsibilities.
Treat the manuscript as confidential: The manuscript (or its existence) should not be shown to, disclosed to, or discussed with others, except in special cases, where specific scientific advice may be sought; in that event the editor must be informed and the identities of those consulted disclosed. Information acquired by a reviewer from such a paper is not available for disclosure or citation until the paper is published
Destroy/erase the manuscript and to inform the editor should they be unqualified to review the manuscript, or lack the time to review the manuscript, without undue delay.
To judge the manuscript objectively and in a timely fashion: Reviewers should not make personal criticism in their reviews.
To inform the editor if there is a conflict of interest: Specifically, reviewers should not review manuscripts authored or co-authored by a person with whom the reviewer has a close personal or professional relationship if this relationship could be reasonably thought to bias the review.
To respect the intellectual independence of authors.
To explain and support their judgements so that editors and authors may understand the basis of their comments, and to provide reference to published work, where appropriate.
To inform the editor of any similarity between the submitted manuscript and another either published or under consideration by another journal.
To ensure that all unpublished data, information, interpretation and discussion in a submitted article remain confidential and not to use reported work in unpublished, submitted articles for their own research.
To alert the editor if a manuscript contains or appears to contain plagiarised material, falsified or manipulated data.
To only suggest that authors include citations to the reviewer’s (or their associates’) own work where this adds value to the scientific aspects of the paper.
Not to retain or copy the submitted manuscript in any form; to comply with data protection regulations, as appropriate.
Not to use information obtained during the peer review process for their own or any other person’s or organisation’s advantage, or to disadvantage or discredit others.
Reviewers should notify the editor if the manuscript reports content that could be considered to be dual-use research of concern (DURC).
The World Health Organization defines DURC as research that “is intended to provide a clear benefit, but which could easily be misapplied to do harm. It usually refers to work in the life sciences, but the principles are also applicable to other fields including engineering and information technology. It encompasses everything from information to specific products that have the potential to create negative consequences for health and safety, agriculture, the environment or national security.”
We may refer manuscripts containing DURC content to the RSC DURC panel who will assess the risks and benefits of publishing the research. If the potential harm of publication outweighs the potential benefits, then the manuscript may be rejected.